Sarah Chapman from Evidently Cochrane blogs about The People’s Trial

Today sees the launch of The People’s Trial, a bold new project from The Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN) at the National University of Ireland, Galway, which invites members of the public to create and run a fun online clinical trial.

Do you want a fun activity to do this summer, which you can do for free and in the comfort of your own home, or on the train, or wherever you have access to the internet? Something that you, your auntie, co-worker, hairdresser and next-door-neighbour could all do? Something that makes you a scientist, even?

The People’s Trial is an online project that invites members of the public to create and run a type of clinical trial – a randomised trial – alongside researchers, but also to take charge of it. A trial for the public and, crucially, by the public. This is YOUR trial.

The People’s Trial is a perfect excuse to go on the internet in the name of science. No smelly laboratories involved. Just an opportunity to be part of something new that should be fun, interesting and useful.

In place of the usual treatments in clinical trials, you might be investigating bananas, or sunhats, or singing in the shower. After all, a treatment (or ‘intervention’) is anything that is done to improve health, so if you, say, cuddle the dog to help you get to sleep or to lift your mood, that’s a treatment!

If you have a burning question you want answered, this could be your chance. But first things first.

What is a randomised trial?
Clinical trials are used to test new treatments to find out whether they are safe and how they compare with other treatments, in terms of both benefits and harms. The best way to make a fair comparison is in a randomised trial, where people taking part are put into treatment groups by the computer equivalent of flipping a coin.

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